RALEIGH — As the clouds broke and the overnight dense fog lifted from downtown Raleigh Saturday morning, North Carolina ushered in a new political era with the inauguration of Pat McCrory as the state’s 74th governor.
McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, is the first Republican governor inaugurated in North Carolina since Jim Martin in January 1989. McCrory used a theme of government backing Main Street, not hindering it, throughout his inaugural address. The site of this year’s inauguration was moved to the south side of the Historic Capitol, from the traditional site in front of the Archives Building.
Unseasonably warm weather greeted the crowd that was seated on Morgan Street and seated and standing along Fayetteville Street.
“As I look out toward Main Street, with government at our back, I see unlimited opportunity,” McCrory said. “Government should not be a barricade or an obstacle to progress. Our face and our approach should be outward, not inward.”
The loudest applause during his address came when he said that government must restrain spending and keep taxes low.
“Government cannot solve all these problems alone because there is no new money falling out of the sky,” McCrory said. “Like struggling families across our state, government has to live within its means. We should not ask for more money from you, because the result is more pain to families and small businesses on Main Street.”
N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker, who also hails from Charlotte, administered the oath to McCrory. It served as a reenactment of the official swearing-in ceremony a week ago inside the old House chambers in the Capitol. Lt.Gov. Dan Forest, also a Republican, retook his oath Saturday as well. He officially was sworn in earlier in the week.
Before McCrory and Forest took their oaths, eight other Council of State members were administered their oaths: Wayne Goodwin as insurance commissioner, Cherie Berry as labor commissioner, Steve Troxler as agriculture commissioner, Roy Cooper as attorney general, June Atkinson as superintendent of public instruction, Janet Cowell as state treasurer, Beth Wood as state auditor, and Elaine Marshall as secretary of state.
McCrory paused for a moment to thank previous governors attending the inauguration, including Martin and former Gov. Mike Easley, a Democrat.
Then he offered a special thanks to outgoing Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, who he has praised since his election for her cooperation in the transition efforts.
“Governor, I thank you for your many years of public service to this state and the people of North Carolina,” McCrory said.
He also remarked that he had visited with former Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt earlier in the week about education.
McCrory acknowledged that economic times are still tough in North Carolina.
“We know there is pain right now in those communities,” McCrory said. “Too many people are out of work. Our state’s unemployment is the fifth highest in the country, and many of our leaders in Washington struggle to find solutions together.”
He said, however, that there is tremendous opportunity on Main Streets in North Carolina.
“On those main streets across this state, it’s the people that count and that make a difference,” McCrory said. “They know the workings of markets and the economy better than anyone else, including those on Wall Street.”
The inauguration kicked off a day of celebration in downtown Raleigh, with the inaugural parade marching on streets near the Capitol not long after the ceremonies concluded.
The parade was complete with high school and college bands, color guards, dignitaries, American Indian tribes, clowns, and Shriners cars.
Later in the afternoon, McCrory opened up his new residence, the Executive Mansion, with an open house.
Barry Smith is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.